Back Pain Risk factors and Prevention

Simple measures can be taken to reduce the chances of back pain and the impact of existing back pain.

Conditions commonly linked to back pain include Muscle or ligament strain. Repeated heavy lifting or a sudden awkward movement can strain back muscles and spinal ligaments. If you’re in poor physical condition, constant strain on your back can cause painful muscle spasms.

Key facts on Back pain

It is estimated that four out of every five adults (80%) will experience back pain at some stage in their life. Although in most cases back pain is nothing serious and recovers spontaneously, the sheer number of people affected makes it a very costly condition with a considerable burden to the individual and society. Simple measures can be taken to reduce the chances of developing back pain and to reduce the impact of existing back pain.

Risk Factors

Age: Discs begin gradual deterioration by age 30 and the discs lose moisture and shrink. This puts more stress on the facet joints which become arthritic with resultant back pain.

Being unfit increases your risk for back pain: Lack of exercise can lead to muscle inflexibility, weak back muscles, weak stomach muscles, and an increase of weight that puts pressure on the vertebrae and discs, and may threaten your back.

Poor posture: e.g. working at a computer, slouching in front of the TV.

Genetic factors: Some people are genetically more prone to back pain, usually from inheriting spinal structural abnormalities. Work that stresses the back, risky activities, lifting, forceful movements, bending and twisting into awkward positions. Improper body mechanics during sporting activities can damage the back e.g. a jerky golf swing or incorrect use of exercise equipment.

Smoking can reduce blood flow to the lower spine and cause the spinal discs to degenerate.

Psycho-social factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, job satisfaction, mental stress. People in depression are likely to have vague physical symptoms, including back pain.

Preventive Measures

Exercise:  Exercising regularly reduces your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some.  Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose. Our health is now suffering as a consequence. Whatever your age, there’s strong scientific evidence that being physically active can help you lead a healthier and even happier life. People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight, and become healthier. It’s underrated as a form of exercise, but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke, and some cancers.

Build muscle strength and flexibility:  Abdominal and back muscle exercises, which strengthen your core, help condition these muscles so that they work together like a natural corset for your back. Flexibility in your hips and upper legs aligns your pelvic bones to improve how your back feels. Your doctor or physical therapist can tell you which exercises are right for you.

Maintain a healthy diet and weight: Being overweight strains back muscles. If you’re overweight, trimming down can prevent back pain. “A healthy diet can be as easy as making the healthiest choice the most convenient, attractive and normal,” said Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Slim by Design and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. He added, “For instance, if a school wants children to drink more white milk than chocolate milk, they can make white milk more convenient (put it in the front of the cooler); more attractive (sell it in a shapely bottle); or more normal (give it half of the cooler space instead of a small corner of the cooler).”

Avoid Twist or Strain:  Avoid movements that twist or strain your back. Use your body properly: Don’t slouch. Maintain a neutral pelvic position. Choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. Placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back can maintain its normal curve. Avoid heavy lifting, if possible, but if you must lift something heavy, let your legs do the work. Keep your back straight — no twisting — and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body.

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